Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the Atal BhuJal Yojana (Ground Water Scheme) in Delhi on the occasion of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 95th birth anniversary. The scheme is aimed at managing groundwater and delivering clean drinking water to every household.
Atal BhuJal Yojana was approved in the cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday. Here is how the groundwater scheme will be implemented.
The World Bank approved the Atal BhuJal Yojana on 12 December. The government will have a 50% stake in the project that would cost Rs 6,000 crore while the World Bank will bear the other half of the cost.
This scheme will be implemented in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra affected by water crises. These states have been selected keeping in mind the shortage of groundwater, pollution and other parameters in these regions.
The government says that this scheme will help in doubling the income of farmers. As many as 8,350 villages will benefit from this scheme. According to the government, the Atal BhuJal Yojana will cost Rs 6,000 crore in five years.
Water security will be managed at the gram panchayat level. The authority will hold educational and communication programmes across cities and villages of the states selected for conservation of groundwater.
Common people will also be included in this scheme. The scheme will be taken forward with the help of water user associations, monitoring and data compilation of groundwater extraction.
The following is the government communique about the scheme.
The scheme has two major components:
A. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Component for strengthening institutional arrangements for sustainable groundwater management in the states including improving monitoring networks, capacity building, strengthening of water user associations, etc.
B. Incentive Component for incentivising the states for achievements in improved groundwater management practices namely, data dissemination, preparation of water security plans, implementation of management interventions through the convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand-side management practices etc.
Atal Jal will result in
- Institutional strengthening for improving groundwater monitoring networks and capacity building of stakeholders at different levels which will enhance groundwater data storage, exchange, analysis and dissemination.
- Improved and realistic water budgeting based on an improved database and preparation of community-led Water Security Plans at Panchayat level
- Implementation of Water Security Plans through the convergence of various ongoing/new schemes of the Government of India and State Governments to facilitate judicious and effective utilization of funds for sustainable groundwater management.
- Efficient use of available groundwater resources with emphasis on demand-side measures such as micro-irrigation, crop diversification, electricity feeder separation etc.
- Source sustainability for Jal Jeevan Mission in the project area with the active participation of local communities.
- Will contribute towards the goal of doubling the farmers’ income.
- Will promote participatory groundwater management.
- Improved water use efficiency on a mass scale and improved cropping pattern;
- Promotion of efficient and equitable use of groundwater resources and behavioural change at the community level;
Background of Atal BhuJal Yojana
Groundwater contributes to nearly 65% of the total irrigated area of the country and nearly 85% of the rural drinking water supply. The limited groundwater resources in the country are under threat due to the increasing demands of growing population, urbanization and industrialization. Intensive, and unregulated groundwater pumping in many areas has caused a rapid and widespread decline in groundwater levels as well as a reduction in the sustainability of groundwater abstraction structures. The problem of reduction in groundwater availability is further compounded by deteriorating groundwater quality in some parts of the country. The increasing stress on groundwater due to overexploitation, contamination and associated environmental impacts threaten to endanger the food security of the nation unless necessary preventive/remedial measures are taken on priority.
The Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti has taken a pioneering initiative for ensuring long term sustainability of groundwater resources in the country through the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL) by adopting a mix of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches in identified groundwater stressed blocks in seven states, representing a range of geomorphic, climatic and hydrogeologic and cultural settings. ATAL JAL has been designed with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behavioural changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management. The scheme envisages undertaking this through various interventions, including awareness programmes, capacity building, a convergence of ongoing/new schemes and improved agricultural practices etc.